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Cora Giantkiller

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"In the great commons at Gaia's Landing we have a tall and particularly beautiful stand of white pine, planted at the time of the first colonies. It represents our promise to the people, and to Planet itself, never to repeat the tragedy of Earth."
- Lady Deirdre Skye, Planet Dreams

wDV1wI2.png


Hi, folks! This is an AAR idea that I've had rattling around in my mind for a long time now. I played a lot of SMAC back when I was in high school/college, getting really entranced by the storytelling and the really vivid factions. And my favorite faction, then and now, was the Gaia's Stepdaughters. Nothing was more fun than raising an army of terrifying mindworms to sic on your enemies. And that gave me the idea of writing a Stellaris AAR as a kind of sequel to one of those old SMAC games, and tell the story of the Gaians venturing into space.

In translating the Gaians into Stellaris, I decided that they were Fanatical Spritualist/Xenophile. SMAC lore describes the Gaians as democratic, but I made them an oligarchy in order to keep Lady Deidre in charge for a while. That ended up paying some story dividends that I hadn't intended, down the road. I also modded the game to give the Gaians an exclusively female leadership pool (at least so far as humans are concerned).

The AAR is largely written in a history book style, with a narrative prelude and perhaps some interludes as well. For RP reasons I will be taking eco-friendly options as they come up, including taming every space beast that I can, but aside from that I have no specific story goals in mind. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens. :)
 
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Prelude, ca. 2195

Cora Giantkiller

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Prelude

“You see in this dome the intermingling of native and earth plants. Outside, they are competitors, struggling over the trace elements required for life. Often, one destroys the other. Here, they are tended with care and kept well nourished. They thrive together, and the native fungus does not unleash its terrible defenses. As you can see, competition is unnecessary when resources are plentiful and population growth is controlled.”
- Lady Deirdre Skye, Planet Dreams

At the center of Gaia’s Landing, there is a vast hybrid forest, intermingling the native plants of Planet with trees from the lost forests of Scotland, ash and hazel, Scots pine and wych elm. Deep in this forest, one might stumble upon a circle of seven yew trees. These trees were without marker of any kind, and yet to the woman that had planted them, they were sacred grave markers.

Lady Skye was the undisputed ruler of the world, a title won with blood and iron, and yet she felt herself a pacifist. It was only that the vast, awesome mind Planet was suffering. It was only that Planet’s agony had become her own. Now that Planet was safe, Deidre found that mourning came easier. And she did mourn them all, even those she had killed. Especially them.

Miriam had carried an air of menace, even on the Unity. And yet she and Deidre had carried on a friendly theological debate with even a hint of sexual tension (or so Deidre would maintain). Now all Deidre could remember was her final shrieks of pain. Prokhor was a sexist pig; he pitched a fit when Deidre was appointed to the Unity, threatened by a female scientist that he couldn’t control. And yet a mutual respect had developed that lasted long after Planetfall. He had been determined to rebuild the lost Unity drive, and she had been happy to lend quiet assistance. They might have succeeded, had he agreed to cease his mindworm experiments. But he had not, and her hand was forced.

She had not killed them all, of course. Pravin had been assassinated by the Chairman, himself overthrown during the Great Hive Purge and nerve-stapled for ideological deviation. The C-Suite executives of Morgan Industries were hung by a great proletarian revolt while their balance sheets and quarterly projections burned around them. Colonel Santiago died during the defense of Spartan Command, sacrificing herself to permit the orderly retreat of her men. Their outposts now reported to her.

Their bodies were not preserved. With the pragmatism of early colonization, each was given to the recycling tanks. Instead Deidre planted a yew tree for each of those who had fallen.

The seventh yew tree was for Deidre herself, when her time came. The Unity was a journey of desperation, to be sure, but she had come to this Planet in a spirit of adventure and discovery. Gaia’s Landing was an exciting place then, free-wheeling and democratic, polyamorous and polytheistic, half scientific convention and half pagan orgy. Then the wars of unification came, the austerity, the unfortunate crackdowns. Her innocence had been replaced with a wary pragmatism. The burdens of leadership caused her to withdraw from the people she was fighting for. Success had just meant more hard decisions.

The sun Alpha Centauri B began to creep over the horizon, and Deidre’s communicator began to chirp with incoming messages. She scanned through reports of the sitdown strike in Morgan Solarfex (now in its third week) and supply line troubles plaguing New Jerusalem, a familiar dread settling in. Then one, a file sent by a data archivist in Academgorodok, actually intrigued her. It seemed that Prokhor had data indicating the existence of a vast megastructure, a network of hyperlanes stretching throughout the galaxy. Gaian astronomical data, collected in the past six months, confirmed his predictions.

Deidre’s mind raced. This discovery was world-changing, and yet it had been sitting in a forgotten drive slated for destruction. With it, the Gaians could do more than replicate the Unity drive. They could vastly improve upon it, using these hyperlanes to travel to the stars in weeks instead of years. Her people could go to other worlds, discover other entities like Planet. A shiver went down her spine as she imagined being a pioneer again.

She raced from the grove. She had to collect the scientific council immediately, other appointments be damned. There were new worlds to discover after all.
 
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stnylan

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This is a very interesting idea. I still occasionally (very occasionaly, to be fair) fire up SMAC
 
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Idhrendur

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I always loved SMAC, this should be interesting. Also, if you haven't ever read it before, this is an interesting analysis of SMAC: https://paeantosmac.wordpress.com/
 

Nikolai

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SMAC was and is the best Civ game out there. Loving this already! :D
 
Crossing the Hedge, 2200 - 2214

Cora Giantkiller

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Crossing the Hedge
2200 - 2214


“Go through, my children! The time of miracles is upon us. Let us cast off sin and walk together to the Garden of the Lord. With God's mercy we shall meet again on the other side.”

Sister Miriam Godwinson, Last Testament

Kcjhpoz.png


The eternal flame of Brigid in Kildare is tended by a convent of nuns, Catholic religious observing ancient pagan ritual. According to legend, the flame is surrounded by a hedge; any man who crosses it will die or go insane. For the Gaians, this was a powerful metaphor. Had they not been charged with an eternal flame, organic life in all its abundance, in a cold and indifferent universe? Had they not cultivated a central hedge to protect it?

For that reason, Lady Deidre chose Brigid’s festival, Imbolc, to launch the GSS Zakharov. The first ship with the new hyperlane drive would carry the flame over the hedge and into the universe beyond. Humanity would serve as a guardian of all life, in all its infinite variation.

As she watched the Zakharov launch, Deidre was flanked by two women. Admiral Ailis Lathal had once been a loyal attache to Colonel Corazon Santiago. When Sparta Command surrendered, she was the first of many to swear her loyalty to the new regime. The admiral had little taste for Wiccan ceremony but her blunt talk and strategic mind did her credit to the Gaian sisterhood. She had spent the last year developing the sector-wide defense plan known as Project Vercingetorix, which called for the hardening of several hyperlane chokepoints to defend the local Gaian sector, and the immediate formation of a light-capable strike force. It was a vision of the world to come.

Standing on the opposite, Governor Siann Leina cut a very different figure. Leina, heir apparent to Lady Deidre, was a child of the Gaian elite through and through. Leina had been orphaned as a child and practically raised by the Gaian sisters. Deidre had nicknamed her the Magician, for her intuitive and mercurial nature--qualities that Leina brought with her to public life, for good and for ill. Subordinates would complain that she was an inconsistent administrator, but she had been able to rely on her personal charm and friendship with ‘The Lady’ to paper over any difficulties. When those failed her, gods only knew what would happen.

6oKqPNE.png


GSS Zakharov was an object of fascination from the beginning. The planet still bore the scars of unification, but this was something that somebody from any faction could be proud of: a expedition to the stars, made out of hope rather than desperation. Captain Ellái Vana presented a confident, photogenic figure, explaining the mysteries of the universe in accessible language. The Zakharov Beltane message was particularly memorable: a photo of Vana standing in the alien forests of La’ah II, without helmet or atmosphere suit. Behind her, a sprawling alien complex of indeterminate age. The caption: “If you lived here, you’d be home by now.”

uMlQNn6.png
Vana’s photo was a sensation as soon as it hit the datalinks, and it set off a public clamor for information about the planet La’ah II and the alien race (known as the Grunur) that once inhabited it. Xenologists and xenobiologists pored over the data sent back from the Zakharov, while the media asked a more basic question: when will La’ah II be cleared for human colonization? Soon the Admiralty was deluged with messages from would-be colonists.

The Sisterhood was taken aback. According to Project Vercingetorix, human colonization was scheduled for 2020 at the earliest. First the immediate sector would need to be secured from outside threat. Then relevant worlds would be evaluated for at least ten years, to identify climate or geographical anomalies, ecological resilience, and (most importantly) native sentience. By 2015, one might begin a multi-year selection process for prospective colonists, paying close attention to group psychology to avoid the Unity experience. The public’s desire for haste was alarming.

Alone among the elite, Leina spoke up for immediate colonization. Just a few years ago, people were killing each other in a brutal civil war. Now members of all factions were crammed together in small pre-fab bases. Tension was thick in the air. We need a pressure valve, Leina argued, before something explodes. It proved to be the excuse Lady Deidre needed to start a grand adventure.

She announced a compromise proposal: one year of extensive study of La’ah II, while colonists would be selected for a prospective first wave. Launch would only be approved if Gaian xenobiologists could design a zero-footprint colony. Lady Deidre meant to guard the flame, not snuff it out.

So began the Gaian Age of Discovery.

u3Dcs0d.png


On March 2, 2202. Captain Vana recorded a video from her ready room, her usual grin gone. “So I’ve been doing--I mean, the crew has completed their initial geographical survey of Gallust IIIa. The mountains in the southern continent? Aren’t mountains. The analysis shows that it can only be… organic, the fossil of some massive [CENSORED] creature the size of the Himalayas or something. [pause] And we don’t know where it came from.” By April the video had 395.6 million views.

In some ways, the discovery of the gigafauna made a larger impression on the Gaian imagination than their later encounters with interstellar empires. To the popular imagination, the entity called Planet was seen as sui generis, an ‘alien god’ (in the words of Prokhor Zakharov) who emerged from the unique Centauri biosphere. The Gallust discovery suggested something more astonishing: a pantheon of gods and godlings, powerful and mortal, throughout the galaxy. The Gaians referred to these creatures as Tuath Dé, the gods of pre-Christian Ireland. To those of a providential inclination, it began to seem that humanity was being called to travel to the stars to protect these magnificent creatures. Their presence--and their frailty--lent a moral grandeur to human expansion to the stars.

OQoYmfj.png


In August 1, 2202, the colony of Forest Primeval (formerly known as La’ah II) was founded. In the official Sisterhood broadcast, the colonial governor gave a brief speech before a priestess led the colonists in a Lughnasadh festival, celebrating the symbolic harvest of the new world. The video was widely shared, second only to the Gallust discovery, and soon Governor Leina announced a second wave, then a third and a fourth. By 2214, the population of Forest Primeval numbered in the millions.

hNoS5Wo.png
That same year, Governor Leina suggested a second world, Lawam III, as a new target for human colonization, to be called Autumn Grove. She found Deidre and the rest of the Sisterhood were eager to cooperate. The Forest Primeval experience had proved to their satisfaction that mass human colonization was possible without jeopardizing the ecology of the new world. Deidre even talked of an interstellar tour of the Gaian worlds, speaking rhapsodically about feeling the warmth of new suns.

If Lady Deidre Skye was entranced by the colonization of new worlds, she was not alone. The Gaian public eagerly absorbed every new video from the Zakharov (and, after 2206, the GSS Lindly). Holovid watchers tired of war heroes like Recon Rover Rick, preferring new stories about bold space explorers venturing into the unknown. If only a minority actually emigrated, many more--from every faction--hoped to do so. For the first time, the people of Gaia’s Landing were united behind a common project.

It was not to last. A dramatic discovery on Beta Coeli II would expose new divisions in the Gaian public and even among the elite.
 
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Cora Giantkiller

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This is a very interesting idea. I still occasionally (very occasionaly, to be fair) fire up SMAC
I always loved SMAC, this should be interesting. Also, if you haven't ever read it before, this is an interesting analysis of SMAC: https://paeantosmac.wordpress.com/
SMAC was and is the best Civ game out there. Loving this already! :D

SMAC was my favorite Civ game too, absolutely. (Civ 4 is close for me in terms of hours played, but the story and the factions for SMAC really drew me in.) When I was playing Civ 2 as a teenager, I would find myself wondering about the civilization that I was making, how 'my people' felt about things and looked at the world, how the cities that I'd conquer from India or somebody were faring after a couple of centuries under my rule. So when I started playing SMAC and saw how it was oriented around telling a very specific story, I was hooked. From there it was really natural that I got into Paradox grand strategy games.
 
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Nikolai

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A good start, with the inevitable divisions showing up eventually....

Yeah, I felt the same about SMAC. Really a gem of a game. Got it on release, played all Civ games, and those together with paradox games almost occupies all my gaming. Got in early in 2001 with EU1.
 

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I feel there is a very appropriate SMAC quote one can adapt for this:

The righteous need not cower before the drumbeat of human progress. Though the song of yesterday fades into the challenge of tomorrow, God still watches and judges us. Evil lurks in the new worlds as it lurked in the datalinks of yesteryear. But it was never the datalinks that were evil.
 
The Makings of Empire, 2214 - 2221

Cora Giantkiller

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The Makings of Empire
2214 - 2221

“You are the children of a dead planet, earthdeirdre, and this death we do not comprehend. We shall take you in, but may we ask this question--will we too catch the planetdeath disease?”
Lady Deirdre Skye, Conversations With Planet

MTWryeD.png

On August 8, 2214, the Zakharov detected anomalous atmospheric readings from Beta Coeli II, indicating the presence of a greenhouse effect. Imagery from an initial probe indicated the possibility of agriculture, and other attempts at ecological management. By the time a team of xenologists made a discrete trip to the surface, they were unsurprised to find a sprawling civilization bearing the hallmarks of the human Industrial Age: fossil fuel use, mass production of goods, gunpowder.

The xenologists brought back with them a collection of written material, and began the arduous work of translating the local language. What they learned about the Ngodoans--as the natives referred to themselves--was alarming. The Ngodoans had adopted a crude system of imperialism, justified by ‘race science’ that proved the inferiority of some Ngodoans and their suitability for enslavement. Internal warfare and exploitation were common, and their industries were endangering their civilization.

And then a xenobiologist identified a Tuath Dé. The body was lying in the southern continent, and as it decayed it released a potent psychedelic into the atmosphere. Had these Ngodoans killed a god out of malevolence? Had they allowed it to die by polluting the atmosphere, overhunting local herbivores, accidentally poisoning the groundwater? The cause of death was unknowable but the crew suspected the worst. Many were overcome with a religious horror.

Captain Vana understood how explosive her report would be. Uncharacteristically, she filed her report with the Gaian Navy without an accompanying video for the public. Her discretion was in vain, however. Zhakarov fans on the datalinks noticed the discrepancy quickly, and began to speculate that Vana had discovered intelligent life. With the rumors spreading online, the Sisterhood could not keep the true report classified for long.

Within the Sisterhood, Siann Leina successfully pushed for a program of education for the Ngodoans. If they could be taught the principles of the Gaian faith and the tragedy of Earth, then they might have the foresight to save themselves and their planet before irreversible climate change. If the Sisterhood did nothing, she reasoned, the Gaian faithful might rally behind a more extreme proposal--violent reprisals or subjugation. Was this not kinder?

Lady Deidre agreed, authorizing the construction of an observation post where Gaian priestesses would teach religion and ecology to the Ngodoan masses. She released Vana’s report with a statement that the Ngodoans were unaware of the damage they were causing, but they ‘would be taught the error of their ways.’ This succeeded in mollifying most, but even at the time there were critics who opposed what they saw as cultural imperialism. Governor Leina would be dogged for months by protesters who referred to her ‘White Man’s Burden.’.

ZOIl1Ji.png


On September 14, 2214, a junior science officer at the Lessia starbase noted the arrival of a solitary craft with an unfamiliar silhouette. The ship’s hails were incomprehensible, but it appeared to be conducting a routine survey of the system. The ship was left alone, while their initial communications were sent back to Gaia’s Landing for translation.

Xenolinguistics revealed that the message contained a greeting on behalf of a Chief Executive Officer Malä’ Kamër, of the Ngasiran StarCorp. CEO Kamër was happy--he claimed--to offer to all benighted civilizations the gift of enlightenment, as found in the words of an ancient sage, the All-Seeing Oktä. This sage’s wisdom was available for a (very reasonable!) annual tithe, surely a small price to pay for true contentment. The Sisterhood was, needless to say, nonplussed. The women had waited for months to learn what the Ngasirans had said, speculating endlessly. It was anticlimactic to learn that this first message was, in Governor Leina’s words, “a sales pitch from an interstellar televangelist.”

“A televangelist with a fleet.” Deidre pointed out. “A fleet larger than ours.” And so the Gaians decided to respond to the Ngasiran altar call.

Lior Boda was dispatched to make the initial approach. Boda was a University-trained ethnologist as well as a diplomat, and she hoped to meet the Ngasirans in an ecumenical spirit. However, the Ngasirans proved quite uninterested in ecumenicism. When Boda declined to accept enlightenment (available as a subscription package with one of several price points), the Ngasiran ambassador pronounced her “as simple as a Bouan.” The meeting devolved from there.

uCWKW9D.png


That would have been that, were it not for some quick thinking by Boda. Before departing back to Gaia's Landing, she bribed a low level technician for the communication frequency for the ‘simple-minded’ Bouans. The Bouans turned out to be an insectoid people, two meters tall on average, and in that sense quite daunting to the first humans who encountered them. They were also in their way quite as interested in trade and commercial success as the Ngasirans had been. But the Bouans had two qualities that did them much credit in Boda’s eyes: (a) Bouan folk religion was not a missionary creed; and (b) the Bouans despised the Ngasirans.

Boda returned to Gaia’s Landing having secured a diplomatic revolution: a comprehensive alliance with the Bouans, including trade, knowledge-sharing, mutual defense, and (in due course) open borders--all premised on the need to contain the more powerful Ngasirans. The Gaians settled into a cold war that would last for decades to come.

The Gaians had little military tradition themselves, having relied on a class of empaths to control the native mindworms that won the wars of unification. However, the new interstellar reality seemed to dictate the creation of a powerful navy. Lady Deidre authorized a program of sharp naval expansion. At the start of the century, the Gaians had three corvettes retrofitted with experimental hyperlane drives. By 2230, there were twenty, with second generation laser weapons and the latest fusion reactors. For officers, Admiral Lathal recruited heavily from her own personal networks: the Gaian flag officers of the 22nd century were overwhelming the Spartan junior officers of the 21st. Their alienation from the Gaian civilian leadership was absorbed by recruits too young to remember the wars of unification. The officer corps was nonetheless loyal to Admiral Lathal, and Lathal was loyal to Lady Deidre. For the moment, that would have to suffice.

ek43YQx.png
x8xmQ43.png


The Gaians had made contact with three alien races in less than a year, and the combined effect radically challenged their sense of themselves. They were by nature curious and welcoming about alien life, but the new interstellar order raised many questions. The Gaians had never attempted military exercises beyond near-Planet orbit and now they were committed to potentially support an alien race in a war that would span across light-years. The Sisterhood had in turn promised this alien race--a race of giant sentient insects--unrestricted migration into Gaian space. In the meantime, the government had announced that the third alien race, themselves cyclopean primitives, were not only polluting their planet but had also engaged in deicide.

The public responded in two different ways. For many, this new reality was disorienting and off-putting. Many reported that they were attempting to commune with Planet. More retreated into the practice of the Wheel of the Year to offer some sense of stability in a suddenly alien world. Attendance at the sabbats dramatically increased in 2015, and remained elevated for decades to come. For others, the prospect of alien life existing in such variety was purely exhilarating. The number of new Gaian acolytes increased dramatically, but so did the new students in xenology, xenobiology, and xenolinguistics. Popular science holovids about the Bouans and Ngasirans proved to be a reliable money maker.

(These impulses need not be at odds, of course. For the Gaians, study of organic life in its infinite varieties would always be a sacred function.)

Two broad political factions began to emerge, within and without the Sisterhood. Lady Deidre and her oldest comrades formed the Conclave of Spiritualists, dedicated to reaffirming the traditional Wiccan values of the Gaians and the memory of ‘the tragedy of Earth.’ Colloquially, this faction became known as the Greens. Governor Siann Leina and the younger members of the Sisterhood were more open to the possibilities of the new interstellar world, and formed the Alien Tolerance Group, colloquially known as Solidarity.

These were not yet political parties as we understand them. The Sisterhood still served as a self-conscious elite bound by their experience of wartime leadership, and their members had more in common than they did apart. Politics for the Gaians primarily took the form of court intrigue. However, the Greens and Solidarity each cultivated the formation of local faction organizations in the major Gaian cities, knowing that a show of popularity could make the difference in a dispute between the elites. This would prove an important precedent in the years to come.
 
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Cora Giantkiller

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A good start, with the inevitable divisions showing up eventually....

Absolutely. I'm about a century ahead of the AAR right now and I can say that division is a fact of life for the Gaians.

I feel there is a very appropriate SMAC quote one can adapt for this:

The righteous need not cower before the drumbeat of human progress. Though the song of yesterday fades into the challenge of tomorrow, God still watches and judges us. Evil lurks in the new worlds as it lurked in the datalinks of yesteryear. But it was never the datalinks that were evil.

I quite like that quote! I might use it for a later entry; I want to start every entry with a relevant quote from the game.
 

stnylan

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It is a brave new world indeed beyond - and the Gaians cannot but be changed through these contacts (and humans and Planet itself were both changed by the settlement of Alpha Centauri)
 

HistoryDude

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Never heard of SMAC, but this looks interesting.

Wow, analyzing other race's insults for ideas of who can be allies... That's good.

Of course, the enemy of my enemy isn't always my friend, and even if they are, what happens when our mutual enemy is destroyed?

Nice touch with the Tuatha...

Subbed!
 

Nikolai

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Never heard of SMAC, but this looks interesting.
It's quite simply the best Civilization game ever, only on a planet colonized after Earth dies.

@Cora Giantkiller quite a huge change for the population of Planet! Can't be easy for the leadership to navigate all this.
 

stnylan

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It's quite simply the best Civilization game ever, only on a planet colonized after Earth dies.
Them's fighting words! :D

Civilization itself is clearly the best, because without it none of the others would exist :D
 

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Great work so far. Fun read. Looking forward to reading more as you publish.

Cheers!
 
The Vale of Winds, 2221 - 2234

Cora Giantkiller

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The Vale of Winds
2221 - 2234


“He held his arm too stiffly, and so was thrown back repeatedly, until at last I seized his forearm and snapped it back against itself. His training suffered while the arm healed, of course, but I felt this was a lesson he must learn early, and well.”
Spartan Kel, Honing the Ki

Gish B III was a frigid world by human standards. The air was breathable and with some basic environmental suits humans could survive on the surface, but it would never be truly comfortable. Meanwhile, ecological resilience reports indicated that Autumn Grove and Forest Primeval could accommodate continued human immigration for another few decades without threatening existing ecosystems. For that reason, Gish B III was initially classified as a low priority for human colonization, projected for potential occupation no sooner than 2250.

It came as a mild surprise, therefore, when the Gaian colonial authorities announced plans to colonize Gish B III, in a colony to be known as Vale of Winds. More surprising still, the projected colonists would not be human at all, but Bouan. Per the official announcements, several thousands Bouans had agreed to migrate to Vale of Winds in order to supply Gaians with much needed alloys for the burgeoning civilian and military space fleet.

Conservative Greens had worried for years about the prospect of Bouan mass migration. Bouan folk religion had traditionally valorized commerce and conquest, and their off-world colonies were heavily industrial places dedicated to short-term resource extraction. Would the influence of a Bouan minority water down Gaian commitments to the preservation of life? However, for years the prospect of mass Bouan migration had remained just a prospect. The towering insectoids were adapted to a colder and drier world than their human allies, and only a few merchants or diplomats lived in Gaia’s Landing or Forest Primeval. This new colonial project would mean migration in the millions, perhaps the tens of millions.

To accommodate this fear, Governor Leina quietly implemented restrictions on the new Bouan migrants. For example, the Gaians subsidized travel for Bouans to Vale of Winds, but not the other worlds. Similarly, Bouans had access to prefab shelters, seeds, fertilizer and other supplies geared towards colonization of Vale of Winds, while the encounter suits used for warmer worlds were prohibitively expensive. Only a tiny Bouan elite would thus be able to afford offworld travel. On Vale of Winds itself, a human colonial government would oversee agricultural and industrial development to protect the native ecosystem.

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Socialism was central to the Gaian economic system, a core value of both the Greens and Solidarity. On Planet itself residents took for granted that the necessities of life, from food to housing to education, would be available for them. In the human colonies of Autumn Grove and Forest Primeval, things were not quite so developed. The market presence here was more substantial, although the power of local trade unions and the growing Green and Solidarity political clubs could be brought to bear should an outrage occur.

Conditions were much worse on Vale of Winds. Leina’s restrictions placed control over the Vale of Winds economy in the hands of a few appointed colonial officers. Corruption and self-dealing were rife. Many skimmed money off the top of the colonial budget, took kickbacks from Bouan capitalists, and took stakes in the local businesses that they oversaw. The Bouans had little indigenous tradition of labor organizing. They did not speak the dominant human languages. Their primary source of support was the Bouan government itself, but the nearest consulate was on Forest Primeval. As a result, labor conditions were extremely poor.

Ciara De Barra, the colonial official in charge of ecological resilience, had used government money to refurbish an ancient alien factory found on the planet, arguing that the advanced technology would permit her to produce alloys cleanly and inexpensively. She used her influence to secure a monopoly on alloy production, and in this fashion had accumulated a large fortune.

Among Bouan workers, the alloy factory was the most dreaded assignment. Injury and death were common, in large part because De Barra did not truly understand the factory that she owned. In 2031, one of her engineers reported to her that the high fatality rate could be attributed to active security measures still in place. The engineer recommended that the factory be shut down until those security measures could be neutralized, which was projected to take several years. De Barra shelved the report, and conditions only worsened.

In September 2033, a whistleblower leaked that earlier safety recommendation to the Gaian press, prompting a sector-wide outrage. Humans may have found the Bouans alien but the corruption and self-dealing of the colonial bureaucracy was all too familiar. Lady Deidre ordered a full audit of the Vale of Winds colonial administration. Independent investigators soon learned that De Barra had bought immunity from safety inspection by offering bribes and kickbacks to officials at all levels of government--including Governor Siann Leina herself.

Deidre Skye was furious--at the loss of life, the inhumane conditions, the tarnished repudiation of her grand adventure into the stars, and most of all at the poor judgment of her heir apparent. She ordered De Barra’s prosecution and a thorough house-cleaning of the colonial bureaucracy. The alloy foundries would be given a complete safety inspection and then given to the collective ownership of the Bouan workforce. Governor Leina was officially censured by the Sisterhood.

During her 2234 Imbolc address, Lady Deidre declared that the Vale of Winds scandal had been a collective failure. The Gaians were dedicated to remembering the tragedy of Earth, but instead they had replicated many of its abuses. She declared the world of Fywanes II would be consecrated to mark this failure. The newly-christened Memory of Earth, a temperate continental world once slated for colonization, would never know permanent human occupation.


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To Lady Deidre, the Imbolc ceremony had marked the end of the Vale of Winds scandal. Many Gaians disagreed. In particular, most members of Solidarity were incensed at their erstwhile faction leader. The premise of Solidarity was in the equality and sorority of all sapient peoples, values that Governor Leina had clearly betrayed. They weren’t satisfied with a reprimand and a symbolic apology. In the former Spartan city of Hawk of Chiron, a Solidarity organizer named Aoife Deaca proposed a simple, three word demand: fire Siann Leina.

To the Gaians of the 2230s, this was a radical demand indeed. The local Solidarity and Green clubs were supposed to defer to their faction leaders, not make demands of them. The Sisterhood was a tight-knit elite, bound by deep personal loyalty. The experience of war and mutual sacrifice had once forged a deep bond between them and the average Gaian citizen; and Lady Deidre was convinced that those bonds held true still. Even her reprimand was considered extraordinary.

Aoife Deaca (b. 2200) had hit on a potent generational cleavage, however. To those born too late to remember the wars of unification, the Sisterhood was simply a complacent oligarchy that took care of its own. Their grand ideals were just so much hypocrisy. Beyond that, the institutions of the Gaian state--built to govern a single continent on Planet--were genuinely struggling to administer an interstellar empire that now spanned hundreds of light-years.

Deidre dismissed the Hawk of Chiron protest as a fringe reaction, but by the spring equinox, there were weekly protests in a dozen cities on Planet. Beltane, the great festival of youthfulness, was marked by protests on all four Gaian worlds. Deaca and her fellow organizers held a rally in front of the stand of white pine in Gaia’s Landing, a potent visual for the Gaian media. More than three hundred thousand people attended.

By now, the political crisis was evident within the Sisterhood, but they could not agree on how to respond and their lady did not know how to lead them. Lady Deidre had put her full authority behind an institutional response to the Vale of Winds scandal, and for the first time in generations that had failed. Fearing another outbreak of the drone riots of a previous century, she could not give in to what she saw as social disorder. And yet when Admiral Lathal proposed that the Gaia's Landing protests be put down through force, Deidre was horrified. And so she dithered, throughout the long hot summer of 2234.

By the end of August, Siann Leina had come to realize that her continued presence in office was a threat to Deidre herself. She offered Deidre her resignation on September 14, 2234. When Deidre was still reluctant, Siann met privately to deliver a reality check: popular opposition would continue to grow unless the Lady found a way to co-opt it. It was an emotional encounter, filled with anger and grief, but it worked.

The following day Deidre met with Aoife Deaca. The older woman said that she was prepared to remove Leina from office, but that left her with a problem: finding a new governor that had credibility with the people and a mandate for reform. To her mind, there was only one conceivable candidate--Deaca herself. With a small smile, Lady Deidre asked, would the Solidarity faction find that acceptable? Nonplussed, Deaca said that she would have to sleep on it.

On September 24, Aoife Deaca was inaugurated as the second Governor of Gaia’s Landing, while a crowd of thousands thronged in the great commons. Many in the Sisterhood avoided the ceremony. Those who did attend pointedly turned their backs when she made the ceremonial offering of hawthorn to Brigid’s flame, and sat on their hands when she donned the robes of state. One leading Green hissed at her, “No one here supports you.” Deaca only shrugged, and went to address her supporters in the square.
 

Cora Giantkiller

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I got the Odd Factory event chain for the first time during this play-through. And on the one hand, it didn't really seem like the Gaian way to send a bunch of poor colonists into an unsafe factory; but on the other hand, I was really curious to see what would happen. So a lot of this update, and the next couple, were inspired by my curiosity.

It is a brave new world indeed beyond - and the Gaians cannot but be changed through these contacts (and humans and Planet itself were both changed by the settlement of Alpha Centauri)

A Gaian priestess would no doubt observe that change is an inherent quality of life, and that to be without change is to be dead.

Never heard of SMAC, but this looks interesting.

Wow, analyzing other race's insults for ideas of who can be allies... That's good.

Of course, the enemy of my enemy isn't always my friend, and even if they are, what happens when our mutual enemy is destroyed?

Nice touch with the Tuatha...

Subbed!

Glad you're interested! Re: the Tuatha, in filling out the Gaian religion and culture beyond what's in the game I've found myself going more and more into Celtic myth (hence Brigid's flame, also), and I like that it offers a distinctive flavor to the proceedings.

Them's fighting words! :D

Civilization itself is clearly the best, because without it none of the others would exist :D

SMAC was pretty formative for me personally, but this is hard to argue with. But we didn't have the original Civilization when I was growing up so I didn't play it as much.

Great work so far. Fun read. Looking forward to reading more as you publish.

Cheers!

Glad you're enjoying it!
 

volksmarschall

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Politics. Politics never changes! :p
 

HistoryDude

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Well, that was a disaster.

I’m assuming that Leina is no longer the heir apparent?

Ah, the generational gap...

Oh, the irony and hypocrisy of the humans. Then again, that’s nothing new.

And it looks as if the political parties are turning into factions...